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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Protecting Yourself and Protecting Others

Protecting Yourself and Protecting Others

As a lawyer I am always saddened when I see a person seriously injured in an accident but with the unfortunate luck of having had an accident with a driver who irresponsibly only has minimum insurance. In New York that is just $25,000, an amount that is woefully insufficient to compensate for any serious injury. While many states, including New York, have some form of no-fault insurance covering medical bills up to a certain amount ($50,000 in New York), people are often so badly hurt that they need even more care than that.

Besides medical bills, accident victims often suffer tremendous pain and suffering, something not covered by no-fault. To get compensation for pain and suffering, people injured in accidents must bring a civil lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident. Where the insurance policy limits are minimal, the value of an injured party’s injuries, both physical and emotional, very often exceed the policy, leaving the victim with nowhere to go.

Too many times I have represented plaintiffs who have injuries that far exceed the available insurance limits. If one has an accident with someone who has only $25,000 of insurance, it does not matter how badly one is injured. Unless the responsible party is independently wealthy, there here is no choice but to accept whatever insurance there is. This often means accepting a paltry $25,000 settlement even though the victim may have sustained multiple broken bones, undergone multiple surgeries, be left with permanent scars and residual problems making their injuries really be worth $1 million or more.

You can protect yourself against this unfortunate situation. There is a form of insurance called Supplemental Uninsured Motorist / Underinsured Motorist (“SUM/UM”) coverage that you can buy as part of your own policy that protects you against being injured by someone who has insufficient insurance. SUM/UM coverage is very inexpensive, and everyone should have it. It is often called “underinsurance” since it protects the insured from situations where a driver is under-insured.

If an accident victim has the foresight to carry underinsurance coverage, then their own policy kicks in where the value of one’s injuries exhausts the coverage of the vehicle responsible for the accident. .

To protect yourself and to protect others, if you can at all afford to do it, you should make sure that your automobile insurance policy limits are larger than the minimal insurance policy limits and that you have as much underinsurance as possible. This is prudent to protect the general public and to protect yourself.

Another coverage issue people should be aware of is spousal coverage. If you think about it, the most frequent passenger in your car is probably your spouse. Yet New York allows insurance companies to exclude coverage for a spouse injured in a car accident unless a written request for such coverage is made and a premium is paid for that coverage. In most cases the premium is very low—just a few dollars. This is money very well spent. Imagine if your spouse is injured in an accident while you’re driving and has no coverage!

If you are a person with assets such as a home or business and are ever sued in a personal injury case such as an automobile accident, please make sure to consult a private personal attorney in addition to the attorney your insurance company will assign to defend you . Your insurance company will not care as much about protecting your personal assets as a private attorney will. I have helped friends and neighbors with contacting heir insurance company lawyers to exert pressure on them to pay a seriously injured plaintiff as much as possible within the policy limits so that the case will be settled and the defendant does not risk a trial where the plaintiff could win a huge jury award which exceeds the policy limits. In that instance, the plaintiff could get a judgment against the defendant and go after the defendant’s personal assets. Be smart if you get sued and protect yourself by getting a personal lawyer on board.

If you have any questions about whether you have the coverages discussed above, I would be happy to review your insurance policy as a courtesy. Please feel free to contact me.


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Friday, August 7, 2015

Robert Tolchin on Fox News regarding American terrorism victims file lawsuit over Iran assets


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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"Mommy's Office"

Follow the Link to view an adorable book designed by Marna and Bob's daughters Yehudit (9 years old) and Serah (7 years old) when they were 6 and 4 years old!

http://berkmanlaw.com/lawyer/Mommys-Office_cp14833.htm


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kudos to Reverend Herbert Daughtry: Reflections on the Barclay's Center

By: Marna Berkman

Yesterday I received a beautiful, heartfelt email of gratitude from Brooklyn's Reverend Herbert Daughtry, National Presiding Minister of the House of the Lord Churches located on Atlantic Avenue. He was responding to an email I had sent him on Tuesday. I will not post the Reverend's response email, but I will say that it was beautifully written and expressed and he cc'ed his response and my email to Bruce Ratner and the staff of Forrest City Ratner and he sent warm regards to my father Charles Berkman.


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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Back Story

By: Marna Berkman

I am not a typical lawyer. I hate controversy and confrontation, but at the same time, I love to argue and fight to support my client’s rights as long as it takes and as far as I have to go to do my absolute all for them. Sometimes, as my husband, my partner in life, and, in a sense, my law practice is quick to point out, I go so far that I forsake my own business interest in the fight. People make a lot of lawyer jokes, painting lawyers in a bad, greedy light, but the lawyers in the jokes are extremely far from my own reality.


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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hurry Up and Wait

By: Marna Berkman

I’ve basically spent my whole morning, and now part of my afternoon, waiting around in court. I left at about 1:30 so the judge could break for lunch, came back at 2:15, and now it’s 3:00pm.

We saw the judge a little while ago, the defense lawyer is waiting for a call back from his insurance adjuster, and here I sit in “Supreme Kings” waiting…When I was younger and a new lawyer, the waiting drove me crazy. Now, I’m used to it, and as of today, I sit and write.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Don't Know How I Did It

By: Marna Berkman 
Originally written in September 2011.

Last week, I snuck out of my office for a Monday matinee showing of I Don’t Know How She Does It with Sarah Jessica Parker. I say that I “snuck” out of the office because running a busy Brooklyn law firm and being the mother of six children below the age of 12 leaves little time for anything, much less seeing a movie legitimately. For that matter, it is also hard to read a book legitimately—a few years and a few children ago my sister sent me the pink hardcover novel that the movie is based on and I toted it back and forth to court and on vacation for months, never having time to read more than a page here and two pages there. I rationalized my mid-day matinee frolic by telling myself that the film was playing almost directly across from my office on Livingston Street—surely a sign that I deserved a two hour break.

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